The Sahara Force India team arrive in Montreal on the back of a strong race for Nico Hulkenberg that saw him finish fifth. Unfortunately for team-mate Sergio Perez he was the victim of a first lap crash with the Jenson Button that saw him end the race in the barriers. The team are hoping the Canadian track suits their car and engine package so it enables them to score for a seventh consecutive race in 2014.
German Hulkenberg continued his scoring run that began in the opening round of the year in Australia with fifth place in Monaco having held the Button’s McLaren behind him as he struggled for grip on the Supersoft tyres. He feels the track in Canada should favour his team more, but is wary knowing how close the midfield battle is in 2014.
“It’s my best run of results in Formula One and I’m really enjoying the racing,” said Hulkenberg. “I’ve said many times that consistency is our strength and we showed that again in Monaco with another fifth place. Monaco was not our strongest track, or our weakest track, but we still brought the car home for a great result.
“[Monaco] was such a hard race. There was pressure from behind and my tyres were gone. Just keeping the car out of the wall was difficult. So it was a big relief to keep Jenson behind. I was shouting over the radio when I crossed the finish line because it was such a satisfying result for everyone in the team.
“It’s difficult to say how we will perform in Montreal. In theory it should be one of the better tracks for us, but things change from race to race. It’s good that we have the soft and supersoft tyres again because I think the softer tyres are more suited to our car. As an overall event the Canadian Grand Prix is one of my favourites because of the buzz around the city and the unusual track. To get a quick lap you need good top speed, a car that can attack the curbs and you also have to be brave enough to get close to the walls.”
His Mexican team-mate Perez was unfortunate to retire on the opening lap in Monaco, but comes to Canada knowing he has been strong there in the past, including finishing third for Sauber in 2012. He has already finished on the podium for Force India this season, having ended the Bahrain Grand Prix in third position.
“I really enjoy racing in Canada; it’s a very nice circuit which is quick and technical,” said Perez. “It feels a little bit like a home race for me because it’s not too far from Mexico and there are always quite a few Mexican fans at the race. It’s a very cool city as well with a touch of Europe in the American continent, and the food is just amazing.
“I have very good memories from Montreal. In 2012 I started at the back of the grid and managed to finish in third place. It was an amazing race and my one-stop strategy worked perfectly. It was my second podium in Formula One and a great feeling – one I hope to experience again soon.
“It’s another track where you need good top speed and traction from the slow corners. You also have to maximise the limits of the track to be quick and get really close to the walls, so it’s easy to make a mistake. It’s hard to overtake there, but the final chicane is definitely the best opportunity. As a track, it should be suited to the strengths of our car so we have to maximise this opportunity.
“After a very disappointing race in Monaco, I just want to get back in the car and get the best possible result for my team. Points will be the target.”
Team Principal and Managing Director of Sahara Force India Dr Vijay Mallya is happy how his team’s season has gone so far, including scoring points at every event. He is pleased with the consistency both drivers have shown, and is looking forward to continuing the close midfield battle that rages on in 2014.
“The car was competitive,” said Mallya looking back at the last race in Monaco. “We qualified tenth and eleventh, but we felt we could have qualified a few tenths better, which would have put us into sixth or seventh on the grid. Nico drove the car wonderfully well; he conserved the tyres when he had to and defended brilliantly at the end. On the supersofts we did over 50 laps, which is quite incredible. It’s just a shame Sergio’s afternoon was so short: I would have liked to see what he could have done too.
“The battle for fourth place is going to be intense as the season develops, but at the moment we are firmly in fourth with 15 points advantage over fifth place. We are now a third of the way into the season and we’ve shown that we have a car that can constantly deliver whatever the track. We’ve been in the points in every race, which is very motivating for everyone in the team and helps pump us up even more. There are some strong teams behind us, but we are holding our own and will continue pushing hard.
“[Canada] should be a good one for us. However, gone are the days when you can hope to have results simply based on what tracks should suit you. This game has changed too much. There are so many variables in racing that we don’t take anything for granted. For example, the weather often plays a role in Montreal and that could reset everything.”